To people who live with anxiety, depression, addiction and suicidal thoughts, a semicolon can be much more than punctuation.
Amy Bleuel, founder and president of The Semicolon Project, has adopted the semicolon to represent perseverance and hope for people who live with mental health issues. Bleuel, who is 29 and from Green Bay, Wisconsin, created the project in 2013.
The Semicolon Project is a faith-based nonprofit movement which aims to encourage, love and inspire people who live with mental health problems.
“In literature, an author uses a semicolon to not end a sentence but to continue on,” Bleuel told The Mighty. “We see it as you are the author and your life is the sentence. You’re choosing to keep going.”
Bleuel has lived with depression, anxiety and self-harming tendencies since she was 8 years old. After living through abuse and sexual assault as well as losing her father to suicide when she was 18 years old, Bleuel decided to share her story with the hope that it would help others overcome similar obstacles.
“I grew with the project,” Bleuel told The Mighty. “I grew by seeking the proper treatment and medication. I have close mentors and friends that I can seek out when I need counsel… But seeing people continue their stories because of my story, seeing how they overcome, it has allowed me to heal myself and further better myself.”
As part of the effort to raise awareness, the project encourages people to draw or tattoo semicolons on themselves as a reminder that their stories aren’t finished yet. Hundreds of people have been taking photos of themselves and sharing the message on social media.
Check out some of the images below:
— Keri (@KerBear34) July 1, 2015
— kyle miller (@_beanie_boy_) April 17, 2015
— Baljot Singh (@_Baljot_Singh_) April 17, 2015
— Sarah Long (@say__ruhh) April 17, 2015
— ●Linda● (@LindaAllTimeLow) April 18, 2015
— Maddie Hasebein (@_maddieh) June 3, 2015
— Savannah (@SEKesselring) June 20, 2015
— Peppers&Plum (@PeppersandPlum) June 20, 2015
— Kaitlin (@kait927) June 20, 2015
— Avery Behr (@BehrAvery) June 21, 2015
— Nyamal Pal (@nyamal_pal) June 25, 2015
— Angelica Koch (@angelicakoch10) June 28, 2015
— Babby Weeb (@trempster) June 29, 2015
“It’s humbling to know that a message you started is resonating with people and so many people are choosing to continue their story because of your efforts.” Bleuel told The Mighty. “I stand in awe of how big it is. It’s hard to grasp and fully take in because its such and amazing thing.”
For more resources about mental health, or for more information about getting help, visit Mental Health America.
Do you have a story about your experience with mental illness? We want to hear it. Please send it to [email protected] and include a photo for the story, a photo of yourself and a 1-2 sentence bio. More info here. Thanks!